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the crucible - role of abigail in the play

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Introduction

What is the role of Abigail Williams in the play 'The Crucible' and to what extent did she cause what happened in Salem? As an actor or director what qualities to you consider important for this role? "The Crucible" is a play written by Aruthur Miller as an historical allegory for the 1950's communist 'witch hunt' in America. However, "The Crucible" is mainly a play which allows the reader to see deeply into the human condition, the good and the bad and makes the reader think about loyalty, their own and the loyalty of others as they continue through the play. Throughout the play we see many sides of Abigails character which changes and develops as the situation in Salem does. In the play Abigail is evidently the villian; lying and manipulating her friends and other people in the village. Abigail plays one of the most important parts in 'the Crucible.' She is a catalyst and a protagonist fuelling the fire, and starting many of the accusations in Salem. Abigail is first introduced as 'seventeen' and 'strikingly beautiful,' she is also decribed as 'an orphan' which makes us initially feel sorry for her. Also from her description we assume she has good intentions. This stereotype is confirmed when she tells Parris, on page seven, that she "did dance" and that he should tell the town she "confessed it." ...read more.

Middle

During the course of the play, she sentences 17 people to their deaths where she could have confessed that she was lying, rather than reap a 'whores vengence' on Elizabeth, John and the rest of the town. Abigail is menecing and spiteful, this means she showed no remorse toward the dead, but rather run away. We can see this towards her treatment of the girls. She uses the hysteria of the 'witchcraft' they did to manipulate the girls as they are scared of her 'pointy reckoning' and the fact that witchcraft is a 'hanging offense' as in Salem society it is going against the thing they all believe they live for, their God. Abigail manipulates the questions asked to her by Hale and turns them to her own advantage to avoid being accused herself. When hale accuses her of witchcraft she blames Tituba, the black slave, saying she hears her 'singing her barbados songs.' However when she decided she wants the spotlight back on her again she takes control of the situation again, this is key after Tituba confesses to working with the devil. Being a good christian, the main ideal of Salem's society, Hale forgives her in the name of the lord and she starts to name witches. Abbie who is afraid takes control again so she cannot be named herself. She puts herself on a pedestal so that she can be in control of a life that would have been set for her otherwise. ...read more.

Conclusion

However I believe that Danforth was very aware of Abigails power after that. Crutially Abigail has to be convincing in the courtroom or she would not have had such power of the town. This is crucial to the whole plot. If nobody had believed her then the plot would have taken a completely different turn; stopping the allegory as Miller had intended. There was many separate causes to what happened in Salem in the crucible. Many people believe it was completely Abigails fault. They are partially right due to the fact on the first few nights of her being in charge 'thirty-nine' women were accused. But the question still stands to what extent of her fault was it. Abigail confessed to dancing and pleaded Paris to allow her to in the beginning. However this has to be weighed against her plotting and manipulating of the town which came to her at her beckon call. Also other characters in the town used the hysteria to their own advantages, for things like land. I believe that Abigail was mostly to blame, however she did not start the mess that happened, however acted at a catalyst, quickening the pace of the accusations and excecutions which eventually lead to the hanging of John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse, two fairly upright names in the town. Her acting as a catalyst also lead to 'the power of theocracy' breaking and good names being soiled because of her childish lust. ...read more.

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